On Sunday, January 20th, we will all have the chance to become much more familiar with The Art and Times of Frosty Myers. The documentary film of the same name, produced by his wife, Debra Myers, will be featured at the Saint Augustine Film Festival, in the same city where the wildly prolific, but oftentimes non-represented artist resides for at least a portion of the year.
Frosty was born in Long Beach, California in 1941, and by the time he reached the age of 20, he'd relocated to New York City, which was, at the time, an epicenter of artistic evolution and innovation. American art was challenging some of the long standing European ideals and traditions that had defined it for quite some time, and Frosty was in the midst of it all. Described as an "Artist's Artist" and "way, way beyond his time", Frosty helped to lay the groundwork for contemporary art, and was involved in countless projects during his career. His extensive portfolio includes, but is certainly not limited to, The Wall in SoHo and the Moon Museum to name two of his most notable endeavors (the latter making him among one of the first artists to put art on the Moon).
We were honored to have the chance to interview both Frosty and Debra to get to know them better and learn their story before the upcoming Film Festival debut.
Ten Years A Cypher - 10 Questions with LoveReigns and Monsta - Co-Creators of The Cypher Open Mic Poetry & Soul
Merriam-Webster defines a Cypher (or, more formally, Cipher) as a method of transforming a text in order to conceal its meaning; a message in code; or a combination of symbolic letters. Hip Hop or Lyrical Culture defines a Cypher in much more colloquial and relevant terms as anything cyclical. For example: if you're freestyling, you rap in a cypher, which defines both the order in which you take your turn - one after the other - as well as the physical arrangement in which you stand - typically in a circle, each participant facing inward, sharing their talent until it's time to pass the mic.
The Cypher Open Mic Poetry & Soul has, over the last ten years, found a way to define itself and has become synonymous with all things positive, uplifting, and progressive about an open mic. Held every Thursday at De Real Ting Cafe in Downtown Jacksonville and stewarded by Artists LoveReigns and Monsta, The Cypher (for short) has become an integral part of the fabric of the Duval Art scene. Many poets, lyricists, artists, and musicians - local and national - have graced its stage. Artists and art appreciators alike gather habitually and faithfully to be inspired, uplifted, and encouraged to "release the innershit". In many ways it can be considered a sort of rite of passage. There aren't many seasoned artists in Jacksonville that haven't, at the very least, heard of The Cypher or attended the weekly event at some point. However, if this is your first time hearing of The Cypher, circle up and don't forget to respect the mic - this is a part of Duval history and you're about to get a lesson.
Don't Miss A Beat is on a mission to make sure that no child in Jacksonville, Florida gets left behind. For a decade the organization has worked to combat Jacksonville’s high dropout rate as well as other issues that plague our youth in this city. Utilizing the performing arts, academic enrichment, and civic engagement, Don't Miss A Beat has made positive and measurable impacts on our neighborhoods and communities.
This week we spoke with the entire team to find out more about the origins of Don't Miss A Beat, to learn in detail how far they've come and what they've accomplished since the organization's inception, and to get a glimpse of what the future holds for them.
Ravid Kahalani, the creator and mastermind of Yemen Blues, is a musician on a mission - a mission to unite the world with music across cultural and theological boundaries.
Israeli born with Yemenite parents, Kahalani grew up in a religious home that exposed him to Hasidic and Yemenite music from an early age. Ritual trips to the synagogue with his father left a lasting impression on him. “It was a Yemenite synagogue, a very simple building, and I remember the powerful feelings I had as a child when singing the verses of the prayers. It was always about singing and accurately pronouncing verses in a perfect Arabic accent.” (Times of Israel)
An inherent free spirit, Kahalani broke away from his religion and his childhood home as a teenager to discover his own path and find his own way. He described it as a time of "deep exploration" that eventually led him to hard drugs. It wasn't until the age of 20 that he resolved to turn his life around. “I woke up one day with the understanding that I was going to end up a druggie at the central bus station or dead if I don’t stop now,” (Times of Israel)
From that point on he explored healthier outlets of expression from cooking (he spent seven years as a professional chef), to training in dance, performing in the theater, and singing opera. Throughout it all music was the constant and omnipresent driving force in his life. By the age of 25 he knew music was not only his calling, but his destiny.
Yemen Blues is the result of his life's journey thus far and has a sound and style as unique as he is. Rooted in the traditions of Yemenite singing, Yemen Blues threads West African funk, blues, jazz, and other musical traditions together creating a high-energy, danceable experience for young and old.
Yemen Blues will be performing a free concert here in Jacksonville on December 20th at the Jacksonville Jewish Center at 7pm. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to ask Ravid a few questions for our blog this week and got to know the visionary artist behind the music better.
"Talent is no substitute for preparation." - 10 Questions with Musician and Arts Educator, Rashon Medlock
Rashon Medlock is an unassuming individual. Quiet and reserved, his demeanor doesn't boast the wealth of talent, knowledge, or musical dexterity he possesses. That is, until he picks up his guitar and microphone or takes a seat at his piano. It's then that the magic happens and the shy, gentle giant opens up and lets you into his world.
A musician to his core, Rashon writes, composes, and produces music - when he's not teaching music to exceptional and at risk students all around Jacksonville. He understands the value of giving back, why the arts are not only important but integral to our lives and the development of our youth, and why support in and for the community is the cornerstone of our artistic evolution in Jacksonville and beyond.
Rochelle Underdue is a dynamic spirit who has found her path. Everything about her screams movement, passion, and authenticity. Far more than a dance instructor, she aims to translate her fervor for dance into a ministry that leads wandering artistic souls to creative liberation. With already more than ten years of experience under her belt, she is currently enrolled at UNF earning her BFA in Religious Studies. Her endless drive to learn and improve herself feeds her desire to help others break out of the constraints she has often experienced along her journey.
With an infectious positivity, she's making her own way in Jacksonville. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with her and get to know more about what she's doing to change the face of dance in this city, one step at a time.
This spring the Community First Cares Foundation in collaboration with the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, announced the second-year partnership to continue local artist grants and support business education symposiums. Community First pledged $10,000 to fund 10 direct artist grants, a doubling of last year’s funding. Community First also pledged to continue its support of the Cultural Council’s “Entrepreneur Symposium for Creatives: Every Artist is a Small Business”, an educational workshop for local artists.
“The Community First Cares Foundation is thrilled to see the good these grants can do in the hands of local artists,” said Community First Cares Foundation Executive Director Missy Peters. “The grant recipients are engaged in creative and innovative projects in our community which are worthy of support.”
The second round of grants was initially opened for applications from August 18, 2018 through October 18, 2018 (the deadline was extended by a week making the cut-off October 25, 2018).
On November 20, 2018, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and the Community First Cares Foundation officially announced the ten winners of the second-year artist grant program.
When speaking on the subject of Arts Advocacy, oftentimes the advocacy efforts stop shy of the Artists themselves. That's why Artist Advocates and co-conspirators like Kate MacKinnon are so valuable and essential to an arts advocacy ecosystem.
A biologist and chemist with a deep love and appreciation for the arts that stretches back to her early childhood, Kate operates KF Mac Consulting - a business consultation firm geared directly at serving Artists and the Arts Community. She observed a need among a deeply underserved artist community in Jacksonville in particular - a need for structured business strategy, branding, marketing, and implementation. This was her inspiration for forming her consultation firm and offering those very services at insanely reasonable costs.
Advocates and co-conspirators like her see a need and fill it with the beneficiary in mind first. If you've ever had the pleasure of encountering Kate, you know what a giving and passionate spirit she has. If not, read on and get to know the Force of Giving that is Kate MacKinnon.
Advocacy manifests in many forms. In the case of Theatre on a Mission, it manifested as the brainchild of a Junior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts about five years ago. Chelsey Cain, now 24, started the non-profit organization after having spent several years exchanging letters with a pen-pal in Kenya to whom she was introduced through an orphanage by the name of Foundation Stone Children's Center, established by friends of her family serving as missionaries in Africa. At the time she felt compelled to reach out further to her Kenyan friend in an effort to do more for her and her fellow classmates across the globe. The idea to use her passion for theatre as a means to connect and raise money and awareness was the beginning of what would become a growing and thriving non-profit dedicated to bringing the love and joy of performance art to children living in impoverished locations.
Since it's inception in 2014, Theatre on a Mission has executed many successful mission trips to Kenya, Haiti, Costa Rica, and already has plans to expand further. This week we sat down with Chelsey to learn more about Theatre on a Mission and get to know about a small non-profit making a big difference in the lives of the students and families it touches.
Questions? Comments? Submit something for consideration?
Please email Jihan@CulturalCouncil.org